At MOI we’re always looking for new platforms that may have potential benefits as part of our innovation programme. Here some that caught our eye in 2014, and that we’re watching with keen interest to see how they fare.

Ello
Ello has been dubbed the “anti-facebook” social network. Chiefly because of three clear pledges its developers made when it was launched in 2014: there would be no insistence that users use their real names; user data would never be sold to advertisers; and the platform would carry no advertising.

Ello is still in beta, and still invite-only, and its user base hasn’t therefore widened much further than the arts-based audience it was first created for, which is probably why it has struggled to gain the broad appeal it needs if it’s to challenge the existing social media giants.

Some say its function isn’t different enough to compete. Twitter’s short sharp news bursts, Instagram’s concentration on images and video and Snapchat’s completely temporary ethos are all able to co-exist with Facebook and garner mass appeal. But maybe mass appeal isn’t what Ello is after. Maybe its attraction will lie in who the users are, not how many there are. We’ll see…

Facebook Rooms
On the subject of no-names policies, Facebook does have an app where users can take any name they like. Rooms takes its inspiration from the chat rooms of the 90s, letting you set up an in-app discussion space about any topic and choose who to invite to share text, photos, videos, and comments. You can customise the look and moderation settings, and use it as a way to talk about and share niche things that might not be interesting, or welcome, in the majority of your Facebook friends’ newsfeeds. Or, you might want to discuss health or sensitive issues for example.

It has its critics. Some question the bizarrely old-fashioned adoption of QR codes as a way to find out about and join different rooms; others say it’s difficult to browse and find rooms that you might be interested in joining. And there is the age-old question mark over whether anonymity is ever a good thing, given that this way, you can say what you like and never have to take responsibility.

However, Facebook’s standard guidelines for communities do apply, banning abusive behaviour and the sharing of certain types of material. Rooms can also have an age rating. So maybe it’s a space where, finally, we see only the good, we-are-all-created-equal qualities of anonymity .

Facebook groups (app)
Another app that works for those who want to keep things away from their main facebook news feed. Micro-sharing is perfect for smaller groups of people who have a common purpose, and the facebook groups app creates a useful third-space in between the broadcast feed and private messaging.

Why an app? Why not use the existing group facility on Facebook? Admittedly, the app doesn’t change what Groups is about. It just makes it cleaner, quicker to access, and more mobile-friendly.

From getting people to organise their personal lives and projects with Groups, there’s a natural lead into Facebook. At Work, a product which looks set to compete with the likes of Slack or Yammer.

Facebook at work
Facebook At Work allows businesses to create their own social networks that are built to look and act like Facebook itself.

Employees can create separate log-ins for use with their Work accounts, or can link up with their main Facebook profiles to access everything in one place.

Facebook’s own employees have been using something similar to communicate with each other, pass on news, plan meetings, share documents etc for the past 10 years. This, combined with Facebook’s familiarity to pretty much everyone, may be Facebook at Work’s biggest advantage. A lot of attempts by employers- to get staff to collaborate more with each other on other platforms have failed because employees don’t want to learn to use another new piece of software.

Facebook at Work, built essentially on Facebook itself, will be very close to an authentic “consumer” social experience. And arguably that’s the biggest threat it will pose to its rivals in the social enterprise space.

Yik Yak
Yik Yak is a messaging app that allows users to post short (up to 200 characters) messages anonymously and within a restricted 1.5 mile radius. At the moment, it’s used mostly by college students; it’s clean, simple and has an interface the colour of Tic Tacs.

Its anonymity makes Yik Yak comparable to Secret or Whisper – two apps that also allow users to post anonymously. But while Whisper and Secret are geared towards the posting of confessions or confidential information, posts on Yik Yak tend to be more light-hearted and humorous. Banter, as the students may say. But it has been known to show a darker side, with users posting threats or taunts and basically cyberbullying.

The app’s use of geolocation tools to limit interactions to within a 1.5 mile radius means that, when used well, Yik Yak can be great for discovering local events or meetings. Hence its popularity on college campuses. Posts also have a limited lifespan – 100 days, to keep everything relatively recent.

Yo
Yo is a new app whose entire premise is to send other users a single word: Yo.

Don’t get it? You’re not alone. Yo was originally launched on April Fool’s Day as a joke, but it caught on, and today, millions of “Yo”s have been sent between users. It’s all in the context apparently…
Yo’s popularity may be telling us something bigger about where the mobile social landscape is heading: apps (like Snapchat for example) that merge the physical and digital worlds.

Interestingly for business, organisations can also set up a Yo account. Football fans who sent a Yo to WorldCup got a Yo every time a goal was scored. Your business could send a Yo when there’s breaking news, or other information useful to customers. Think of it as the lightest of lightweight push notifications, straight to the user’s phone.

There’s even a rumour you’ll eventually be able to buy Yos in celebrity voices to send to your friends!

Intro (from about.me)
This is an easy way to create and share digital business cards, connect with new contacts and store their details for future reference. Sign up with your Facebook or about.me account and the app automatically pulls in your profile picture, location and email address. Or, you can customise your digital business card with whatever photo and contact info you choose.

So seven social platforms we think it’s worth watching. They may not all stand the test of time; they may not all be right for your marketing. You may want to wait before you trial or test them, but at the very least, you should be aware that they’re there, so that you’re ready to react if and when the opportunity is right.

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